06, March 2018

Sixth edition of the India by the Nile (IBN) festival 2018 is being held in Cairo, Egypt.

  • The annual festival showcases a range of Indian cultural output, including contemporary and classical music, dance, puppet theatre, visual arts, food and yoga.
  • It is the biggest foreign festival in Egypt and encourages artistic collaborations between the two countries.
  • This year, the festival will also bring two new events, a fashion show and screening of the Indian movies.
  • The festival is organised by the Embassy of India in Egypt and the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture in collaboration with entertainment company Teamwork Arts.

1.Swadesh Darshan Scheme – Ministry of Tourism

Source: PIB


  • India’s rich cultural, historical, religious and natural heritage provides a huge potential for development of tourism and job creation in the country.
  • There is a great scope and need to develop tourist circuits on specific themes to attract the tourists having special interest in visiting such places. This can be achieved only through an integrated approach by providing engaging experiences for distinct categories of tourists i.e. Domestic and International.
  • Various themes which are unique and specific to the area can include beaches, culture, heritage, wildlife etc.
  • Such theme based tourist circuits should be developed in a manner that supports communities, provides employment and fosters social integration without comprising upon the environmental concerns and provides unique experiences to the tourists.

Scheme Objectives

  • To position tourism as a major engine of economic growth and job creation;
  • Develop circuits having tourist potential in a planned and prioritized manner;
  • Promote cultural and heritage value of the country to generate livelihoods in the identified regions;
  • Enhancing the tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner by developing world class infrastructure in the circuit /destinations;
  • Follow community based development and pro-poor tourism approach;
  • Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increased sources of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area.
  • To create employment through active involvement of local communities;
  • Harness tourism potential for its effects in employment generation and economic development.
  • To make full use of the potential and advantages in terms of available infrastructure, national culture and characteristic strong points of each and every region throughout the country by development of theme based circuits.
  • Development of tourist facilitation services to enhance visitor experience/satisfaction.

Tourist Circuit

  • Tourist Circuit is defined as a route having at least three major tourist destinations which are distinct and apart.
  • Circuits should have well defined entry and exit points. A tourist who enters should get motivated to visit most of the places identified in the circuit.
  • A Circuit could be confined to a State or could be a regional circuit covering more than one State/Union Territory. These circuits may have one dominant theme and other sub-themes.
  • Projects under the scheme shall be under the following identified themes; Ecotourism, Wildlife, Buddhist, Desert, Spiritual, Ramayana, Krishna, Coastal, Northeast, Rural, Himalayan, Tribal and Heritage.


Source: PIB

National Mission on Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) to beautify and improve the amenities and infrastructure at pilgrimage centres of all faiths.

The objectives are:

  • Integrated development of pilgrimage destinations in a planned, prioritized and sustainable manner to provide complete religious tourism experience.
  • Harness pilgrimage tourism for its direct and multiplier effects on employment generation and economic development.
  • Follow community-based development and pro-poor tourism concept in development of the pilgrimage destinations.
  • Leveraging public capital and expertise.
  • Enhancing the tourist attractiveness in a sustainable manner by developing world-class infrastructure in the religious destination.
  • Creating awareness among the local communities about the importance of tourism for them in terms of increase in sources of income, improved living standards and overall development of the area.
  • Promote local arts, culture, handicrafts, cuisine, etc., to generate livelihood in the identified places.

Key facts:

  • Under the PRASAD scheme thirteen sites have been identified for development, namely: Amritsar, Ajmer, Dwaraka, Mathura, Varanasi, Gaya, Puri, Amaravati, Kanchipuram, Vellankanni, Kedarnath, Kamakhya and Patna.
  • Under the ‘PRASAD’ scheme the focus is on development and beautification of the identified pilgrimage destinations. Whereas, in the ‘Spiritual Circuit’ identified under the Swadesh Darshan scheme, the thrust is on development of particular thematic circuit consisting of various religious/spiritual destination in a State and Union Territory.

3.HRIDAY Scheme

Source: PIB

  • The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, launched the National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme on 21st January, 2015, with a focus on holistic development of heritage cities. The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment.
  • With a duration of 4 years (Completing in November, 2018) and a total outlay of INR 500 Crores, the Scheme is being implemented in 12 identified Cities namely, Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal. The scheme is implemented in a mission mode.
  • The Scheme supports development of core heritage infrastructure projects which shall include revitalization of urban infrastructure for areas around heritage assets identified / approved by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India and State Governments.
  • These initiatives shall include development of water supply, sanitation, drainage, waste management, approach roads, footpaths, street lights, tourist conveniences, electricity wiring, landscaping and such citizen services.

4.Threat of new malware looms over cyberspace

Source: The Hindu

Saposhi can take over electronic devices and use them for DDoS attack

  • A new threat looms large on the horizon of cyberspace.
  • Cybersecurity agencies have detected a new malware called Saposhi, which is capable of taking over electronic devices and turning them into ‘bots’, which can be then used for any purpose, including a Distributed Denial Of Service attack which, with enough firepower, can cripple entire industries.


  • The Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), a central government body that deals with cyber attacks, had issued an alert about reaper, a highly evolved malware capable of not only hacking devices like WiFi routers and security cameras, but also able to hide its own presence in the bot — a device taken over by a malware.

How a malware works:

  • A malware is released into cyberspace, with specific instructions programmed into it. The instructions direct the malware to take over as many devices connected to the internet as possible.
  • Depending on its programming, the malware turns internet-connected devices into ‘bots’, and starts building a botnet.
  • Malwares like Reaper and Saposhi are capable of identifying weaknesses in devices and exploiting them to turn the devices into bots.
  • Once a large enough botnet is created, simultaneous pings are sent to a single server, causing a server failure, which is called a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
  • Depending on the size of the botnet, malwares can execute multiple DDOS attacks at the same time, or over a period of time.

5.India’s child marriage numbers drop sharply, driving down global rate, says UNICEF

Source: The Hindu

Officials attribute the drop in child marriages to better access to education for women and increased public awareness on the negative impact of child marriage.

  • The proportion of girls getting married in India has nearly halved in a decade, the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, which has contributed significantly to a global decline in child marriage.

UNICEF said 25 million child marriages were prevented worldwide in the last decade, with the largest reduction seen in South Asia — where India was at the forefront:

  • India constitutes more than 20% of the world’s adolescent population and accounts for the highest number of child marriages in South Asia given its size and population.
  • In the current trend, 27% of girls, or nearly 1.5 million girls, get married before they turn 18 in India. This is a sharp decline from 47% a decade ago.


  • Child marriage adds to health, education and abuse risks, and increases the chance of intergenerational poverty.
  • The drop in child marriages to better access to education for women and increased public awareness on the negative impact of child marriage.

UNICEF Conclusions:

  • UNICEF estimates that 12 million girls a year are married globally, and says more is needed to end the practice by 2030 — the target set under the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • UNICEF’s conclusions on India came after comparing data from its 2006 and 2016 health survey that asked women in the 20-24 age group whether they had married before they turned 18. It also took into account child marriage data from the 2011 census.

Legal law in India:

  • The legal age of marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that sex with an underage wife constituted rape.
  • Despite the law, child marriage remains deeply rooted and accepted in society, and is widespread in parts of the country.
  • Better awareness of the Supreme Court’s verdict would deter child marriages, and declaring them invalid would strengthen India’s laws against them.

6.Marshall Islands to launch world-first digital legal tender

This Is the First Country to Adopt a Cryptocurrency As Its Official Currency

(MAJURO, Marshall Islands) The tiny Marshall Islands is creating its own digital currency in order to raise some hard cash to pay bills and boost the economy.

Key facts:

  • The Marshall Islands has partnered with Israeli company Neema to issue 24 million units of the Sovereign (SOV) digital currency.
  • The SOV will require users to identify themselves, thus avoiding the anonymity that has kept bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from gaining support from governments.

Different from ‘Petro’ cryptocurrency

  • Venezuela had launched the Petro cryptocurrency in February. Unlike the Petro, the Sovereign (SOV) will be recognized in law as legal tender, holding equal status as the US dollar, which is the Pacific island nation’s current currency.


  • Plans for possible sovereign cryptocurrencies have gained momentum in recent months, as digital tokens launched by private companies have jumped in value. Several governments, including China, Estonia, and Iran, have discussed plans for their own digital currency.


  • Cryptocurrency is fundamentally a decentralised digital currency transferred directly between peers and the transactions are confirmed in a public ledger, accessible to all the users.
  • The process of maintaining this ledger and validating the transactions, better known as mining, is carried out in a decentralised manner.
  • The underlying principle of the authenticity of the present to historical transactions is cryptographic proof, instead of trust; different from how it happens in the case of traditional banking systems.
  • Cryptocurrencies are being denounced in many countries because of their use in grey and black markets.
  • There are two sets of interconnected risks; one being to the growth and expansion of these platforms in the uncertain policy environment, and the other being the risks these platforms pose to the users and the security of the state.
  • They also have the potential use for Illicit Trade and Criminal Activities and can be used for Terror Financing.

Way ahead:

  • The future and further success of cryptocurrencies depends upon the way regulatory frameworks are devised. Different countries have approached this innovation in different ways, and therefore the regulatory environment remains uncertain.
  • The governments will have to take considered steps, given the risks from possible use of cryptocurrencies in terror financing, money laundering and tax evasion.

7.Solar dispute with the US: WTO to set up panel to check India’s compliance with last year’s ruling

Source: Indian Express

The World Trade Organisation’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) has agreed to India’s request for setting up a panel to determine whether the country complied with a previous ruling striking down its domestic content requirements for solar cells and modules.


  • In 2016, New Delhi had lost a case against the US at the WTO after the global trade body stated that power purchase agreements signed by the Indian government with solar firms for its National Solar Mission did not meet international trade norms.
  • The US, which is of the opinion that New Delhi continues to apply the “WTO-inconsistent measures”, had in December last year approached the Geneva-based multi-lateral organisation demanding action against India for non-compliance of the WTO ruling.
  • India, however, has been maintaining that it has complied with the WTO’s ruling. India had requested the WTO to set up a panel to determine its compliance with the rulings of the dispute.

Dispute Settlement Body:

  • The General Council convenes as the Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) to deal with disputes between WTO members. Such disputes may arise with respect to any agreement contained in the Final Act of the Uruguay Round that is subject to the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes (DSU).
  • The DSB has authority to establish dispute settlement panels, refer matters to arbitration, adopt panel, Appellate Body and arbitration reports, maintain surveillance over the implementation of recommendations and rulings contained in such reports, and authorize suspension of concessions in the event of non-compliance with those recommendations and rulings.

8.Cooperative Election Authority

Source: The Hindu

The Haryana government has announced that a Cooperative Election Authority would be set up in the State for supervising the election process in cooperative bodies.

Constitution 97th Amendment Act:

  • The Constitution (Ninety Seventh Amendment) Act 2011 relating to the co-operatives is aimed to encourage economic activities of cooperatives which in turn help progress of rural India. It is expected to not only ensure autonomous and democratic functioning of cooperatives, but also the accountability of the management to the members and other stakeholders. As per the amendment the changes done to constitution are:
  • In Part III of the constitution, after words “or unions” the words “Cooperative Societies” was added.
  • In Part IV a new Article 43B was inserted, which says: The state shall endeavour to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of the co-operative societies”.
  • After Part IXA of the constitution, a Part IXB was inserted to accommodate state vs centre roles.

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